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Sharpie On A Stick

Sharpie On A Stick
Sharpie On A Stick

Sharpie On A Stick

This was a capture from 30 feet away with a LONG 1200mm fast lens. The Prairie Sharp Tailed Grouse was about 16 feet up. . . It was about 3 degrees F at the time. .…I’ve never seen them eat those seeds before so I’m trying to figure out when perch where he did. There are better trees still with fruit on them in the yard. 😵

I was in my Jeep working out the drivers window. This guy and a flock of at least 10 others were hanging out nearby. There is a much larger flock hanging around this year. He was with a smaller division of that group. All the good images I will get of grouse this year will be from inside of my vehicle. If Sharp Tailed Grouse see a human, they take off for a good distance. I understand they can fly for several miles at a time. From up here on the ridges, they could glide for 20 miles lololol. These guys are plump prairie Chickens.

The native Americans called them Fire Chickens because they would take advantage of burnt out areas moving in very quickly to take advantage of the feeding opportunities. They are plump birds for sure lolol. At least it doesn’t make their tail look fat ……. cue top hat rif…

They really don’t occur in the east or much bast Wisconsin OR west of the continental divide. They are quite a large grouse with the characteristic pointy tail. The purple cheek bags the males puff out in breeding season is spectacular. I will get to that one too ….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Sharpie On A Stick

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Hoar Frost Red Light

Hoar Frost Red Light
Hoar Frost Red Light

Hoar Frost Red Light (Full Screen is really a nice way to view with this image).

RIght at sunrise when the light from the sun is colorcast markedly red, any scene with hoar frost reacts vividly. Here on this high ridge with an infinite view to the horizon 100 miles away. This, the same light that makes the Pink “Belt of Venus”. Also responsible for the Red lIghting on distant hills these long traveled rays. Ultimately reflected to my lens. All pink is sky images are reflecting this very light. Those long red rays are going through the most atmosphere. The really bound off the bright white frost flowers and crystals. Catching it digitally is another thing 📷🤔

This scene is produced here to the same colors I experienced that morning. It’s as close as I can do it. Note how the snow in the shadows is grey/white .(natural) While the sunlit pure white frost turns into a nearly fiber optic pink projector screen.

Exposed surfaces to the wind were coated here by 3/4 of an inch of hoar frost. The north side of trees, grass interrupted the air flow of moisture laden air. This changed the “Triple Point” (good google word along water vapor). The Hoar frost growth is ice forming simply by moist air flowing over objects where a SLIGHT pressure change from the turbulence causes deposition of the ice. It’s crystal growth live real time that I’ve watched happening real time during several trips up on the ridges. I have gone up in terrible foggy cold weather to work the flat light before a time or two lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Hoar Frost Red Light

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Crescent Moon Over Deer

Crescent Moon Over Deer
Crescent Moon Over Deer

Crescent Moon Over Deer

Scenery such as this under the crescent moon takes my breath away. Surrounded by the quickening of the sunrise projecting it’s pink light. The ice so suspended in the atmosphere reflects those long traveled photons back to my light traps. This is termed Alpenglow. “Belt of Venus” variety. Cameras do no justice to the cool air on your face, the quiet of the remoteness, the sense of being the only human for miles in all directions. This photo location is about as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get. It’s 50 miles to anywhere with a population over 10. There are WAY more deer per square mile up here than people.

On a road trip up here in the winter high country consists of slick roads followed by short jaunts off the gravel. Two tracks roads are unpredictable as to snow depth so I tread carefully getting off road. Stuck in the snow is not something I’ve ever been. It’s not my plan to ever do so. I carry a LOT of survival gear, a good radio, folks generally know where I’m going ahead of time.

With the Ford F-150 Raptor I’m driving now, I’m feel much more secure but that is probably a trap eh? … It’s got at least 6 inches more ground clearance than my old jeep. (famous last words) So I’ll keep being choosy upon my trails and stick to the smart choices depending on the weather I guess…

Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)

Title: Crescent Moon Over Deer

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Brace Framed Deer Twilight

Brace Framed Deer Twilight
Brace Framed Deer Twilight

Brace Framed Deer Twilight

A formally captured and framed fence brace . I don’t always partake, but a “Good Stiff Brace” at the end of the day is mostly a good thing……. (ie Crown Royal etc). This fence brace was a filter for the deer. The sunset was intoxicating all by itself.

This country is big. I drove about 15 miles out into the backcountry to have this mule deer stay put while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals cooperate… The Orange Twilight was just a foretelling of the sunrise about 15 minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. A rare power pole and line in this photo. I almost never take images with them in the scene …..

From a strictly rustic standpoint, there is a lot of engineering that went into that brace. All those force vectors resolving to shunt all the tension into the ground. They are elegant in their design. The cowboy/fence builder will always use what is handy to act as a lever on that diagonal wire. Diverse items as cow bones, pipes, sticks, boards and anything else laying around is used. What ever you use is going to be there a while lolol.

We have quite a bit of icy snow at the moment ….for mid January. I would expect a very long winter as it’s already been a very long winter and it’s still just starting. Live up in hight the Wyotana borderlands can be chilly at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Brace Framed Deer Twilight

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Perspective Snow on a Deck

Perspective Snow on a Deck
Perspective Snow on a Deck

Perspective Snow on a Deck

I’m always trying to imagine things as a mouse would in my travels. My cameras don’t care if I’m taking a mouses viewpoint or mine at 6 foot. I put the camera on a plate to protect it. It was warm from being inside.

I actually don’t do a lot of architectural images, maybe 10 a year 🤔📸 Rare of the rare, I even have electric lines in this images which is certainly less probable. I never have them if I can avoid it. But I like to think I have an eye for patterns and a tendency for walking around with cameras. I’ll give in occasionally to my habits…. The two characteristics are synergistic if you have OCD as badly as I do 😜 I try to take advantage of this partnership when ever the two meet in the middle.

This phenomena was the result of a very gentle, very dry powder snow. It was like sand sifting through your fingers on that deck surface. One poof of wind and it all would have taken to drifts. AND this was about 4 inches deep for an idea of scale. The entire deck surface had this appearance. I thought I had seen most odd ball phenomena in the snows during my 3 decades living in Wyoming. I’ve never seen this phenomena before though I’d seen other photos of it. I didn’t have a deck in Jackson Hole as we had concrete there. I missed all that dry powder then where this is probably common. We are 2000 feet lower and warmer here. Snow sticks all the time to itself and covers this surface solidly.

Just not from that little mouses viewpoint.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Perspective Snow on a Deck

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First Post this Decade

First Post this Decade
First Post this Decade

I’m betting this is the VERY FIRST Post this Decade on Facebook and several other social media sites. It is also the last post of the decade of the teens in the Mountain Time Zone any way.

Literally posted at 12 midnight December 31, 2019 / January 1, 2020 precisely but only on my personal FB page. It took a while to get it on other forums/sites lol. That’s mountain standard time however lolol. Machine accuracy.

I’ve met LOTS of real fence posts in my 20 years on a backcountry Wyotana ranch. Never had a seriously negative encounter with one other than the labor/toil necessary to implant one into the ground. This is a big corner post. I suspect that hole to be hand dug.

I don’t consider this hazardous duty though it was chilly at the time ❄️. This is a good long morning drive from my place just to do photography on “Wyoming Backroads”. Heading that direction is a rare event. I always look for old rusty signs on posts anyway. You have to see this stuff going down the road. Having a good camera with you is also helpful lolol. . Love old no hunting signs.

SO, Musings of the history here….

According to the plaque: This wooden post was planted in 1942 . The plaque says “Set BY EARL REYNOLDS APRIL 5 1942 a mere 77 and change years ago. 😜📷

There are 9 bullet holes where some vandal shot the antiquity. That obviously happened long ago as well. This is located in a remote part of northeastern Wyoming maybe 35 miles from my ranch.

Earl was working out here on a ranch during the WWII doing cattle production obviously. That war was a team effort. Need beef and the cowboys of the west were doing their best. There were a bunch of Wyoming men that died in that conflict.

Location: Northeastern Wyoming.

Title First Post this Decade

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Oh Crap a Camera Lens

Oh Crap a Camera Lens
Oh Crap a Camera Lens

Oh Crap a Camera Lens If you had a “Crappy Old Year, this image is important. It’s going to get better after 😉

I’ve raised many parrots (I owned a pet shop in the 80’s). Working very closely with dozens of big birds before. I’ve been pooped on by the best. Big Birds Shoulder birds can really mess up a shirt … This meadowlark is not much different than those big birds but for it’s size. With this I’ve pretty much have all different obvious Meadowlark activities. Eating, sleeping, pooping and singing lolol. Most birds will do this move if they must right before they fly…

I’ve learned that all birds lift their tail and squat just a bit right before…. Note: If you have a parrot or other arm tamed bird on your arm, if the tail lifts, push it down with the other hand. They don’t/can’t “go” with the tail down. . So my timing only looks lucky. While this might be a bad example lol … anticipating a shot can save a lot of machine gunning with the camera. Storing photos is expensive if you do say 50 thousand 100 meg images some months.

Computer Tech Musings: So how do I keep track of and store that many 100 plus meg files? (How does a serious photographer deal with safe backups).

Finished photos are one thing (not as many of them). There are only a few thousand of those at 220 meg each lolol.. It’s The raw files streaming out of the 7 or 8 cameras I routinely use are huge files. There are also many. I like to keep the timeline so I have all the raw files for the last several years on demand. Older than a few years I have to connect external drives to the system.

I currently manage 50 TB of storage devices. Most storage drives I keep off line. All turned off to prevent any intrusion or loss. . I keep a monthly backup off site in a pile of 8 (currently) 4 TB SSD hard drives I keep adding finished work to. As they fill up, I add a new one to the pile and always have a pristine backup of the raw files and the they are kept in a fire safe.

Every image I finish is saved in three separate external hard drives as a last step. I’ve maintained professional graphic stations for 30 years. I’ve still got most of my graphics files available to me. Even those created decades ago available to me fairly quickly. Most of my old images, belonged to clients back in the day. Lots of them around. Can’t use them. But I’ve got a few of my own to work with

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Oh Crap a Camera Lens

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Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming
Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

Catching one coming in is harder than catching on leaving. Trust me on this 🤔📷

Duck when you hear a flock of about 100 of these guys (Sharpies) flying 10 feet over your head. There is a Large group around our compound that mob us about daily now days. These Sharp Tail Grouse are mooches off my barnyard and there i a pretty big flock that hangs out and about the place. My ducks finish feeding time leaving little behind. Amazingly, there always seems to be a flock of these guys sitting watching for an opening to come in for easy pickings. They are indeed flighty if they see human movement.

It was -10 degrees F when I took this image a few weeks ago as this posts. A fairly good sized flock was hanging out in the side yard. A few were nice enough to post for me in bright sunlight when I happened to have a 1200 mm lens with me. Up close and personal is of course the best way to see this wonderful feather patterns. Good camo too … The wind was blowing directly at his rear.

I’ve worked these guys in 30 below windchill and they just hunker down. As a species they seem to weather the storm quite well. Ranging up to Alaska , (The borderlands or Alaska….. humm, close call with Alaska being a bit harsher environment lol. . As far as I can tell, they care not about snow.

They are heavy birds and fall into powder drifts readily lol. They are fairly plump birds which I consider flying boats. One hitting you would ruin your day. They have come close to me before ..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

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Perspective Sunset Lens Illusion

Perspective Sunset Lens Illusion
Perspective Sunset Lens Illusion

Perspective Sunset Lens Illusion

I present a Golden Hour Veiled Sunset set against a snowy corral / pasture pipe fence line. Smooth curves are everywhere and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t line up the sun with the gate precisely. Well I could but I wouldn’t have gotten all these curves / waves lololol. My OCD is amiss 😜. I’m always looking for unusual angles. The smooth curves of the snow banks combined with the fence’s waves here fall under oddball for sure.

Corrals built this way will last a while. That is 3 inch drilling well stem pipe interlocked and screwed / welded in place as the frame. The fence is all made of solid steel sucker rod from old oil wells. It’s an inch across and pretty tough as it is all thick solid iron. Not much gets through this kind of fence arrangement. I’m pretty sure it will last 1000 years in this low water / precipitation environment unless someone tears it down with heavy equipment and a torch .

Photographic Musings:

About 1/2 of this illusion is the actual topography / landscape here but the rest is all about a really wide lens. Wide lenses distort on the edges and by using a “tilt/shift” lens, you can manipulate the distortion by enhancing it or removing it. Much more on the left than the right of the frame. THe lens actually moves either side to side on the camera body. This moves the “Sweet spot” of a good lens right or left on the camera sensor. It also moves edge of lens distortion. Google “Tilt Shift Lens”

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Perspective Sunset Lens Illusion

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Woven Wire Hoar Frost

Woven Wire Hoar Frost
Woven Wire Hoar Frost

Woven Wire Hoar Frost

The sub-zero morning I took this up on a high ridge, the Hoar frost covered ANYTHING that was exposed to the wind. Freezing fog grew monster ice feathers off every surface that disrupted smooth air flow. I have many images yet to finish from that morning.

Here on the Montana/Wyoming border, the snow is as deep as the backcountry is big with just a few plowed paths to provide access to the high ground. The wind here moves a lot of snow from ridges to the surrounding slopes so if your on the ridge, DON’T get off the ridge. You loose the traction of “position” off the top.

Given the opportunity, I will set up for a Close/Far perspective capture when ever a fence “of interest” is around. This was a very early morning session that started in early twilight and worked for several hours. It’s not every day I see this kind of hoar frost. It does happen but not necessarily every year up here. The highest ridges are 4000 feet in elevation. With valley fog being pushed over higher elevations. Thus creating a fantastic environment for hoar frost growth to prodigious proportions.

Woven Wire Fence: When you absolutely don’t want smaller livestock going from pasture to pasture. It makes a wonderful nucleation spot for ice crystals to grow from. The low angle light was still very spotty. I had to find a “Slit” through the trees to catch this. Working backcountry has it’s little areas of zen. Millions of them actually. We just have to slow down and see them. Capture their photons. The ironically, hurry on to the next little spot of zen lololol. Such is the life of “working” a scene with cameras…. 📸🤔

Title: Woven Wire Hoar Frost

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Meadowlark’s Morning Song

Meadowlark's Morning Song
Meadowlark's Morning Song

Meadowlark’s Morning Song

As I travel across our ranch, the song these guys sing fill the air during the warmer months. I do miss them during the cold months. There is too much snow for them to cope with now. Most of the grass covered by the white blanket. We just had a 4 wheel drive 3/4 ton truck with a horse trailer attached get stuck in the snow.

This seems to be a popular post with all the decorations sitting on the top. When every you have many acres of birds with one tall post, it is going to be used as a perch. This one is well used or so it appears lol.

These guys are hit or miss approaching them. All of my Meadowlark Captures are random encounters as I drive around my ranch. I’m not putting out feeders as my cats would make short work of that plus I feed birds generally out in our barnyard when I feed my chickens. About 5 gallons of feed a day goes to my barnyard flock and about 1/2 a gallon to who ever else comes by lolol. There are a lot of freeloaders eating off that trough. I can’t blame them.

The Meadowlarks are mostly insect eaters and tend to head south with the weather. Seeing these guys is a sure sign of spring posted here a day after the solstice.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark’s Morning Song

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Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting
Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

A clandestine meeting down Yonder by the fence line was occurring when I interrupted it. I suspect it was a lively discussion of one meeting with two different opinions resultant from it. Just like humans do. There may be some territorial statement ongoing during this capture. That’s good hunting ground behind them. There is about a 100,000 mice and other small voles/prairie dogs/ rodents out there for the taking. Who looks where takes on a big meaning lol.

Yet another capture driving along remote backcountry roads up here in the borderlands. I saw these two Raptors talking 30 feet apart. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 20 feet deep and these birds are 30 feet apart lol. I’m not a hawk expert and the distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. On bird is definitely bigger than the other. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different sizes are an obfuscation.

Random encounters result in opportunistic captures for my photon traps. (cameras). I see them….driving along a gravel road, stopping. Then getting out standing between the door and the car with a 2 foot long lens is a chore best accomplished with some haste. Doing so and not have the birds fly off is a whole different encounter. The chances that both birds would hold their ground on a vehicle incoming at 45 mph is small. 45 is the speed limit on most gravel backroads around here. Then have enough time during all that get a camera up and set properly in manual mode. . Elapsed time less than 20 seconds I would imagine.

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

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Foggy Fence Line Sunrise

Foggy Fence Line Sunrise
Foggy Fence Line Sunrise

Foggy Fence Line Sunrise

Up above the ground clouds, these high backcountry ridge tops make for an awesome sunrise over the top. I’m several hundred feet higher than the valley floor The heavier, cooler air settles in the valley. Moisture condenses and the “Golden Hour” light against a blue sky grabbed my attention. The rustic/rural nature of this image is only matched by the sites remoteness.

I took this image from right at the highest point around locally. This captures elevation is around 4100 feet. The lowest point in Wyoming is On the Belle Fource River at 3099 feet. That location is about 70 miles east of this location. Gannet Peak in the Wind River Mountains is the highest point in Wyoming at 13,804 feet with several peaks just below that elevation. I live at 3780 feet in elevation. I have lived for a decade at 6200 feet at the foot of the Teton Range. The winters are MUCH milder down here except for the winds….

Having put a few fences in, I will tell you that that line of posts and wire was a lot of work. Ranches have tremendous infra-structure in the numerous miles of fences to rotate stock from pasture to pasture. I think we have about 30 miles of fencing in or around out ground. Just having one big pasture is a bad plan. You want to be able to rotate your stock animals from pasture to pasture. Water sources central ideally in those pastures. Generations of ranchers have figured out that works best. Fences also help prevent mixing of different ranchers cow herds togethers. Not only is there a property reason for them, they allow good grass management practices based on an areas attributes and deficiencies.

Location: Near the Bliss Dinoaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Foggy Fence Line Sunrise

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Birds Need Naps Too

Birds Need Naps Too
Birds Need Naps Too

Birds Need Naps Too

I approached the post he was occupying while in my Jeep. I stopped preeeeetty close to him. If you get lucky. You run upon a Meadowlark close while in your car, stop, don’t move any more. If you move after you stop, it will fly away. Every time but perhaps 2 in thousands of encounters I’ve had with these wonderful birds. So I sat there a while working different lenses. This isn’t a cropped image at all. After watching him for a few minutes, he literally closed his eyes and took about a 3 minute nap. I’d say 20 feet for the distance with a 800mm lens. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes

I have a few dozen images of it as this was not a blink. Having said that, even blinks are not that common with birds either. Photographing people is way worse. If you have 20 birds on a line, none of them will be blinking. Put 20 people on a line and about 5 of them will be blinking lololol. I believe the blink thing is a law of photography similar in complexity to the physics of lenses… 😜

Meadowlarks frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Birds Need Naps Too

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Brace Yourself Sunset

Brace Yourself Sunset
Brace Yourself Sunset

Brace Yourself Sunset

As I travel the backcountry, I see opportunity in common objects. If I had uncommon things (huge mountains, monuments etc), I’d certainly photograph them. Regular Ranch objects are what I’ve got so I will work the common things looking for little areas of zen hidden among the other visual noise. My job is to catch isolated moments in time and space. There were an infinite number of places to observe this sunset, I chose to get down on my knees and look through this window. You’ve got to get to where the photos are after all lolol.

Tilt/Shift Lenses Musings:

Images as this, formally framed edge to edge, are precisely aligned. This was done in the camera. Holding the camera such and using a “tilt shift” lens to align the posts BACK to parallel.

This type of lens literally moves sideways/up and down on your camera incrementally. You can “Shift” the lens one way or the other moving the image across your cameras sensor. This allows the compensation of the normal curvature induced by a wide angle lens. Typically with just a regular wide angle the posts would be distorted pointing toward the middle, not parallel. Using the tilt/shift lens you can compensate for that distortion giving you perfectly straight lines. So the camera term for the day is “Tilt/Shift lens. They are expensive, rarely usable up here but I’m working more and more images into my work flow. Some adaptors that do the tilt/shit function are available for various applications. This type of lens is something you get into when your tired of wide angle shots when the trees all bend in toward the top center. Stay tuned for more applications of this optical technology.

Brace Yourself Sunset

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Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse

Baker's Dozen Sharp Tailed Grouse
Baker's Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse
Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse

Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse is a capture of 13 Fat little Prairie Chickens feeding on Flowering Crab Apples, taken from my front deck 2x3aspect to 3 feetBakers Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse
Talk about a great puzzle!. This one would be just nuts…

As the winter goes on, the Sharpie flocks gradually move in on the main homestead. They attack the peripheral Flowering Crab Trees in our gardens further out first. Then the gradually get used to me moving around. Then they don’t even care if I’m around fairly close by. . The crab “apples” are smaller than cherries in this particular tree.

I never go out with a camera given time looking like a human shape. I love bulky hoods and cloths/coats that hide my human shape. A moving lump scares these guys a lot less than a moving human. It was 7 degrees the early morning I took this and I was working them a while. Spotted them inside and I just took my time getting into position for this. I very slowly opened the outside door of which they could plainly see me. Moving maybe 3 feet a minute with an 8 pound lens and camera to get behind a porch column was necessar. I rested the camera on the column of course and tried to hide my movement behind it.

This is a 1200 mm telephoto image from about 40 feet distance from my camera lens.

There are indeed 13 grouse in this image. Feel free to count them. I’ve done it a few times very carefully and I’m seeing 13. There were a LOT more in the tree. I couldn’t get the detail I wanted and have the shot wider. The local Sharp Tail Flock around our homestead is at LEAST 100 individuals at the moment. I’ve never seen this many birds winter up here before. It was a VERY good grass year so I will stick with that as a reason.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse.

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Perspective Border Fence Line

Perspective Border Fence Line
Perspective Border Fence Line

Perspective Border Fence Line

This fence is parallel with and pretty much directly on the Montana/Wyoming border. Precisely 1/2 way between the North Pole and The Equator. 45 degrees north Latitude. You are looking West for the Sunset.

At the Spring OR Fall equinox, the sun would set straight to where the fence line is headed off in the distance. (Straight West) This alignment says somewhere in Late July or Early June. The sun is setting WAY north of the 1/2 way line. They were getting 24 hours of sun north of the Arctic Circle about the same time this photo was taken. The tilt of the earth with the northern hemisphere facing more directly at the sun will result in this alignment. You can’t believe the timing involved at getting the sun inside of a little peep hole like that wire . Hand holding a camera, moving your lens a millimeter in any direction and it’s out of alighment.

Same type type peep site on an old Shiloh Sharps 1873 model rifle. If you know what I speak, I could be your friend.

Photographic Musings

The twisted wires gate, made of stainless wire, is a highlight monster. I really like finding shiny metal gates. I make a note of where they are and head there under the right sky conditions. No matter where you are looking to take pictures, a good portion of what I do photographically is based on awareness of various interesting/complex’Foreground objects”. I have a map of them in my head. I look at the sky, where the sun is setting/rising, often then deciding what I’m going to be doing that photo session. Picking my targets, using my time effectively. (Plan what you do before you go out but be flexible and adapt.).
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Perspective Border Fence Line

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Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet
Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

Not many Western Meadowlarks were singing the morning I got this capture. We are in their breeding area

It was not funny to the Meadowlarks as it was to me. This particular snow made it hard to find a place to alight. IT stuck to everything. Other birds occupied ALL perches in all directions. Worse: No one wanted to walk in the several inch thick sloppy wet snow. It was sticking to everything including the poor birds feet. A favorite perch were the electric wires around my compound.. There are other photos of that as well lol. There were many good captures this day.

Meadowlarks are insect and seed eaters. They are very well adapted to life up here in this remote grasslands up here on the high ridges. I’m sure they time their arrival or departure based on insect availability I suspect. They watch the weather pretty closely lol. The whole prairie was full of Meadowlarks this day and no shelter in this storm. The snow stuck to his feet made me feel better because I wasn’t the only one dealing with it lolol. There is companionship often formed in misery……..

Meadowlarks left this year around early October when winter started and heavier snows moved through. We’ve had a constant barrage of storms with just a bit of warmer relief since. 40 degrees and still is T-shirt weather in this country. We’ve already been below zero this year.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

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Happy Face and the Meadowlark

Happy Face and the Meadowlark
Happy Face and the Meadowlark

Happy Face and the Meadowlark

My target was the smiley face in the sunrise As I pointed the long telescopic lens at the fence brace to line it up I noticed the Meadowlark. I started snapping and caught this. I think the Meadowlark was as surprised as I was. Both of us saw the anthropomorphic image unfolding. Only we saw it and he didn’t have a camera.

Meadowlarks are very active this early. The sun had been up for about 1/2 and hour. I had been photographing the sunrise. I was headed back as the sun was climbing into a dark thick cloudbank. Looking back, I saw this lol. Backing up a little, I got in position. Click on machine gun setting which works will that time of morning with all that bright light. (This was a VERY bright scene. ). This accounts for the dark tones as the difference in dynamic range makes silhouettes out of things the human eye resolved. The best cameras can’t resolve this much difference in illumination between objects.

Meadowlarks are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands/high plains . Beautiful Song and obvious Yellow breast lending itself to be the state bird for several states out here in the west. Abundant in their preferred habitat, they thrive here on our ranch as far as I ca see in this environment. They gorged on Grasshoppers all summer. They are welcome here anytime . A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They have a beautiful song and are a little difficult of a subject. This Image is a 2×3 aspect to 36 inches.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Happy Face and the Meadowlark

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Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

Meadowlark Up Close and Personal
Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

I find Meadowlarks a difficult catch. I should clarify that by saying getting a REALLY close “Closeup” to be a bucket list item.

The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story. This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him.

This guy was very tolerant of my Jeep as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

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Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

Sunset Ridge Deer Herd
Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

Sunset Ridge Deer Herd is just 6 members of the 20 plus deer grouping. Strung across this ridge line in 3 groups.. The herds are gathering for the winter. Security in numbers is their goal. I’m seeing fewer and fewer individual deer walking around, replaced by small herds to larger groups.

This is ridge is known to me as “Sunset RIdge”. It’s a wonderful place to take sunrise and sunset photos. It’s located just over the border in Montana with Wyoming Skies in the background. I have spent many hours up there and I was heading there to shoot the sky show. There were many deer spread out across the ridge. I decided just to take their images against the blue sky with golden hour glow to the landscape. Long shadows add so much to an image.

These deer will stick together all winter. There will be a buck in “general charge” but mostly I suspect an “alpha” female will lead them around the place foraging. In my observations, bucks are lazy and tend to watch a lot rather than boss. It’s the does that have the squabbles most of the year. The bucks like to sit back in the reclining chair. They do take time to eat but aren’t that social with the does. The does have probably figured out what getting too friendly with a buck leads to. I’m sure they don’t want anything to do with that at this point after the rut….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

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This Post Was Posted

This Post Was Posted
This Post Was Posted

“This Post Was Posted” is a 2:1 Aspect up to 40 x20 inches.

This fence is on the Montana border. Montana is (left) of the fence. . Wyoming is (right) of the fence. It’s 10,000 kilometers from the North Pole to the Equator. This fenceline is pretty durn close to exactly 1/2 way between the two important geographic features on the globe. This coincides with the 45 degrees north latitude. (the north pole is 90 degrees and the equator is 0 degrees. This is looking east and is just after sunset in early civil twilight.

Some of these posts are really really really old. Wood takes a long time to rot up here. We don’t get a lot of moisture at 14 inches average a year so it stays mostly dry and stable. This is a massive old cedar post used to anchor a good section of fairly tight fence. Our ranch is located on both sides of the border of course. We pay taxes in both states. It’s pretty close to 50/50 in each state. 2 courses of the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship are in Montana and 2 courses are in Wyoming as well.

Geologic Musings:

RIght here at the border, under this fence, the Cretaceous Dinosaur Bearing Rock Formations magically change name from Hell Creek Formation (in South Dakota and Montana) versus Lance formation (Wyoming). Based on all sorts of reasons known only to the people doing stratigraphy, they arbitrarily named the same rock formations caused by the same environment at the same time, two different names. Hell Creek left, Lance right. Sort of silly I think but hey, I only have a Masters in Geology. I don’t have it Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD). I don’t worry too much about what I can’t change 🤔 Filed under trivia…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: This Post Was Posted

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Sharp Tail Grouse’s Tail

Sharp Tail Grouse's Tail
Sharp Tail Grouse's Tail

Sharp Tail Grouse’s Tail was a capture from 30 feet away with a LONG 1200mm fast lens. Sitting on a copper plate that protects the top of our main gate posts (18 inches in diameter) and 16 feet high. . It was about -2 at the time. . Frost on the copper… I would think the copper would be cold to stand on but what do I know? 😵

I was in my Jeep working out the drivers window. This guy and a flock of at least 50 others were hanging out nearby. There is a very large flock hanging around this year. All the good images I will get this year will be from inside of my vehicle. If Sharp Tailed Grouse see a human, they take off for a good distance. I understand they can fly for several miles at a time. From up here on the ridges, they could glide for 20 miles lololol. These guys are plump prairie Chickens.

The native Americans called them Fire Chickens because they would take advantage of burnt out areas moving in very quickly to take advantage of the feeding opportunities. They are plump birds for sure lolol. At least it doesn’t make their tail look fat ……. cue top hat rif…

They really don’t occur in the east or much bast Wisconsin OR west of the continental divide. They are quite a large grouse with the characteristic pointy tail. The purple cheek bags the males puff out in breeding season is spectacular. I will get to that one too ….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sharp Tail Grouse’s Tail

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Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee

Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee
Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee

Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee

This is a sub-committee of the larger Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Pronghorn Ladies Club. The discussion started out as talk about a stock tank and a mid day drink. On the way, this fence crossing shows very clearly that Pronghorns make decisions as a group lolol. The stress is obvious….

There is an obvious internal discussion on going regarding this obstacle. I’m “OK” at lip reading AND translating from Pronghorn at the same time so you’ll have to trust me here . (Classical Reference to a recent commercial). It was the youngster walking in that not knowing any better say’s “just step over that wire” (or something like that). which moved the group. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it .

I’ve watch Animal behavior pretty carefully as I see it…. . When I notice hair on barbed wire, I see a place to plant a Game Trail Camera. (I buy pretty good cameras). It’s ALL about placement. There are so many signs that say watch this area. The trail walking to this 15 foot wide fence section then it shrinks behind the camera. Fences naturally funnel the animals to here and they take advantage of the downed wire to cross. If you want to dab a little buck urine on that hair, it will pause animals there for a while too. (good hint but be careful with the glass bottle, you don’t want it to freeze in the winter in your rig lololol).

2:1 Aspect

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee

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Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest

Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest
Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest

Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest

Satire: The Annual Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Synchronized Fence Jumping competition is well under way. Each fall we have the tri-outs for the follow up event in the spring. The spring event is much larger usually and involves more animal diversity than the late fall meet.

I give the deer in the foreground a 9.5 for form. The deer in the background has a bent front leg joint, 8.5.

This is an all Ungulate (google this) event so I expect some Whitetail to try out but their team failed to show up YET AGAIN !!!. Some creatures just can’t keep to a schedule. This is the second time this year they Whitetails have bailed from a major try out. Now the Pronghorns don’t even like jumping over fences. I read where they can jump 14 feet high but my memory fails sometimes, that might be wrong.

I have close to 100 good images of deer jumping over fences. This MIGHT be the only double deer in the air I have in the portfolio. I don’t recall clicking on another with 2 in the air at the same time. I’m considering putting in a synchronized swim tryout down by the lake. We’ll see if those whitetail show up for that 🤣

Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America and are known by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears. The hear extremely well with those big ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores so they are survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderline.

Title: Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest

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Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse

Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse
Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse

Deep Deep Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse don’t go along too well. They tend to say out of the powder as they sink in and have short legs lolol. They usually have to fly out of the hole they make for themselves by landing in a controlled crash. In this image, there is only a few inches of snow next to our backyard fence. We see them in our compound all winter as they mooch grain off our ducks and Buff Orphington Chickens.

These Birds are known as the “fire grouse or fire bird” by native Americans. This is because they are reliant on natural brush fires to keep their habitat open. Their common name around here is “SHarpies” or certainly Sharp Tail. These birds are found only on the North American continent. . Geologically it is the last species of the Genus Tympanuchus. (Linnaeus named them AGAIN, boy was he busy) Apparently there are 7 subspecies one of which is extinct, the other 6 are extant. (extant versus extinct…. good to google if you don’t know).

Being one of the larger grouse, they are hard to sex visually. The males have yellow eye combs that are not conspicuous. During the spring they males puff up a pale violet air sacs on their neck. UP to 18 inches long (plump birds) In the early fall, Females Ring-necked Pheasants easily are mistaken for a female Sharpie. Watch for the length of the tail which the pheasant wins with the longer tail.

The They really don’t exist south of Wyoming/northern Nebraska ranging WAY north into Alaska through out central and northwestern Canada. I’m thinking they like the snow but I might be wrong[ They are year round residents of the Wyotana borderlands but I understand the continental divide is a boundary too them and they really don’t live west of there in the the US. Western most Montana doesn’t have them apparently.

Location; Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse.

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Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow

Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow
Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow

For me to get to this location, I have to leave about an hour before sunrise “Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow”. It is well down into Crook Country Wyoming about 40 miles towards Devil’s Tower. If that hill weren’t in the way, you could see the big thing.

Normally I would just drive up there. This isn’t my ground and I’m not big on trespassing on others ground. This shot was from the country road It is now filed in my “Wyoming/Montana backroads folder. All of the backcountry roads up here are gravel with an occasional Concrete/asphalt highway cutting across no mans land. It’s about 40 miles in any direction from this spot to a Wyoming State paved road. It’s all county road department maintained here.

There are some rough areas of course to get here. But if it’s frozen, the mud is no longer a problem but for deeper than your tires ruts lolol. Driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee where taller pickups leave tire grooves is always exciting. I’m still waiting for my now officially issued VIN number model year 2020 Ford F150 to be built. It should change the height at which I take images sometimes lol.

I get lost in reconstructing past lives and events, the comings and goings of old homesteads. This wasn’t much more than a cowboy bunk house with a wood stove for the “hands”. You had water with the windmill and I suspect an outhouse long since gone somewhere nearby downward of the prevailing wind. This land has had cattle or sheep on it for 100 years and slightly more. That’s 5 generations of cowboys that stayed the night or the summer in this treeless pasture.

This is very big country open back country with many square miles of grass attached to any particular ranch. This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. This water pump is still standing though. It looks to be in working conditions.

Location: “D” road, Crook County Wyoming.

Title: Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow

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Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced

Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced
Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced

Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced is the real deal lol.

That is a fence brace, it frames, rustically here, 4 exhumed volcanic necks from the of Northeastern corner of Wyoming. The three on the right are of course the Missouri Buttes and the one furthest left is a little known place called Devil’s Tower National Monument. These 4 piles of hard rock that resisted erosion that removed all . This view is covering about 35 miles of landscape from this ridge.

This country is big. The high ground looks pretty close but those mounds of phenolytic porphyry are pretty big. These bumps on the landscape used to be buried by thousands of feet of sediments surrounding them and supporting hard rock volcanic neck up thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The soft sediments were removed all by the action of the Little Missouri River and the Belle Fourche River Drainage providing the bulk of that work locally. The soft rock is removed while the harder material makes mountains. That’s pretty much the way it works all over the planet.

From a strictly rustic standpoint, there is a lot of engineering that went into that brace. All those force vectors resolving to shunt all the tension into the ground. They are elegant in their design. The cowboy/fence builder will always use what is handy to act as a lever on that diagonal wire. Diverse items as cow bones, pipes, sticks, boards and anything else laying around is used. What ever you use is going to be there a while lolol.

We have quite a bit of snow at the moment….for early November. I would expect a very long winter as it’s already been a very long winter and it’s still just starting. Live up in hight the Wyotana borderlands can be chilly at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced

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Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire

Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire
Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire

Game Trail Camera capture: Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire

I love Pronghorns color in this light. The color of their hide is very close here to the real color they sport mid day. Maybe just a TAD dark but very close. This instead of the “Golden Hour” color of much darker brown. I see a host of images of these guys much darker than I’ve ever seen them in the wild. Title: “Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire”

Running under a barbed wire is risky but moving about 20 mph as he’s doing it…. wow. These guys move through those gaps with hardly loosing any speed. I’ve seen a dozen Pronghorn moving under barbed wire in a few seconds. They don’t mess around when they feel like it’s “time to go”. I suspect someone sounds a subtle alarm and they are “outta here”. Fastest land animal in North America, they have their share of scratches along their back too. I sometimes have image after image like this on a camera as the herds move through. The automatic cameras react to the movement and capture the action.

I’ve seen Pronghorn go OVER fences before but it’s not a common occurrence. Some fen

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

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Meadowlark Fence Line Morning Meeting

Meadowlark Fence Line Morning Meeting
Meadowlark Fence Line Morning Meeting

Game Trail Camera Capture, Meadowlark Fence Line Morning Meeting

I didn’t do anything to this image to “Clean up” the .jpg that a 20 megapixel game trail camera gave me. This will teach you what the problems with the equipment is. “Meadowlark Fence line Morning Meeting”

Set up:

So from my perspective as a professional photographic artist…. First step is to properly position cameras to catch things. This ended up a WONDERFUL capture with all sorts of quality issues due to equipment. It’s rare to catch 2 Meadowlarks in the same frame this close….😲It is a unique captures for sure. I set up this camera all summer on this fence line brace near a gate with a salt lick nearby. Where you have cows hang out, you get birds . Meadowlarks are my main target but I’ll take an eagle landing if such was meant to be lolol… Anyway, I got this “useable” image. A good catch so to speak…

Problems

The problem in Game Trail Camera images (depending on the model of course) is that they tend to not handle delineations between areas of differing contrast very well. Look at the piece of barbed wire off to the right of the post as it goes up to the grey sky. It has a 2-3 pixel white line surrounding the whole thing. The landscape has the same issue between the ridge top and the sky above. A several pixel White line which is tedious and tricky to remove from grass..

Grainy:

Then there is the “Grain” from the automatic camera upping the ISO (camera sensitivity) I could “Smooth” the grain in the uniform sky easily but not on the bird up close which is grainy as heck partially out of focus so close to the camera.

Candid

To an image, these game trail camera captures are candid. Natural behavior without a human behind the lens preventing this Meadowlark Fence line morning meeting from even occurring.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Meadowlark Fence Line Morning Meeting